Rockford’s airport is thriving — so who needs one in Peotone?

The state should sell the land it has purchased in Will County for a proposed Peotone airport. Let local farmers and job creators own and invest in it.

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This stretch of Eagle Lake Road near Peotone is within the boundaries of a long-proposed airport.

This stretch of Eagle Lake Road near Peotone is within the boundaries of a long-proposed airport.

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Last October, Chicago Rockford International Airport celebrated a major achievement with the completion of a $12 million expansion of its international cargo terminal. RFD expanded from a 72,000-square-foot facility to 200,000 feet to accommodate its growing partnership with Amazon and future partners, which has made RFD a major hub in its Prime Air logistics network. The expanded facility supports more than 800 jobs.

RFD is a smashing success, the second largest UPS hub. Why would the state spend precious resources on another airport that would drain business from RFD and other airports around the state?

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Year after year, Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for spending on the state’s phantom “third airport” in Peotone, 43 miles south of Chicago — a project that will spend precious resources and strip jobs and growth away from the Rockford area. 

Years ago, the state began buying up land for the airport to be built on. The Illinois Department of Transportation continues to spend money each year, paying holding costs, and there are proposals to buy more land and build roadways.

Each year, IDOT even pays Will County money to make up for the lost property tax revenue the county would be receiving if this land were privately owned and put to agricultural or commercial use. From fiscal year 2005 through 2019, IDOT paid Will County approximately $1.6 million. 

Let that sink in for a moment. Our tax dollars are being used by the state to pay a county for lost revenue on land the state owns but has never developed for its intended purpose. Every year.

As if that were not dumb enough, consider this. In this year’s capital plan, the state allocated $205.5 million for road construction work just west of the proposed site for the Peotone airport.

The worst part is that billions are being invested in O’Hare, and millions are being invested in Rockford to be a great cargo and passenger backup. Why would we want to hurt these state investments and steer money from important projects to help build something that airlines say they don’t need. 

We don’t need an airport in Peotone. The growth and success of Chicago Rockford International Airport has more than made up for what an airport in Peotone was imagined to be.

The state should sell the Will County land and let local farmers and job creators own and invest in it. It makes no sense to hurt the investments that we have already to build something that is not needed.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford

Trump won’t accept a loss

Now that 52 Republican senators have allowed President Donald Trump to move closer to becoming a monarch (“I can do whatever I want”), what will they do when he loses the November election but refuses to leave office?

Trump falsely asserts that as many as 5 million illegal votes were cast against him in the 2016 election. Imagine the conspiracy theories he’ll come up with after the November election to explain why he didn’t really lose. Think of the harm he could do between Election Day and Inauguration Day.

Maybe then these 52 senators will be ready to do what’s right for our country. Of course, that would take Mitt Romney’s kind of guts.

Kevin Coughlin, Evanston

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